Getting Started with DILDs
There are a few things that give you a better chance of having a lucid dream. First of all, lucid dreams usually occur early in the morning. In other words, the longer you sleep, the better chance you'll have of becoming lucid. The reason for this is that, as the night goes on, your dreams get longer and longer after each sleep cycle.
The longer you sleep, the closer you get to waking up during each dream portion of the sleep cycle. This is exactly what you will learn to take advantage of.
Generally, before you go to sleep at night, you want to be ready to sleep without any thoughts, worries, or negative emotions hanging over your head. So before you go to sleep at night, you may want to do a short energy cleansing and meditation.
You should already have a journal next to your bed, so if you have any thoughts, worries or things you need to get done, write them down first. Then you'll be reminded in the morning, and you have no need to remember them when you should be sleeping. If you start to feel guilty or anxious for letting those things go, tell yourself "The best thing I can do for myself and everyone around me right now is get a good night's sleep so I can be alert and healthy tomorrow."
Lastly, as you are falling asleep, tell yourself that you WILL have a lucid dream. Don't think you will. Know you will.
How Long is This Going to Take?
The answer is, as always, it depends. If you are already good at recalling dreams, and you've had a few lucid dreams here and there by chance, you will probably be able to lucid dream a lot faster than someone who started out not even remembering many of their dreams.
Even if two people start out at the same skill level, you have to take into account the fact that we are working with our own minds, and every person is different. There are really no concrete reasons for why some people pick up lucid dreaming faster than others when they seem to start out at the same skill level.
Regular (nightly) lucid dreaming takes AT LEAST a couple of months before it even starts working--that is, WITH a lot of consistence and work. If you aren't consistent, you have almost no chance of becoming lucid regularly. Lucid dreams come from habit and skill.
Most people average several months to a few years to be able to lucid dream every night.
Ways To Lucid Dream
Each of these methods, if practiced every day for several months, should get you frequent lucid dreams. Not every method works for every person, so you may want to try more than one at the same time.
The MOST important thing is consistency. I can't stress this enough. You've got to be patient and have the discipline to keep at it every day.
The following are the most common things people do to have lucid dreams. As always, if you find that something completely different works for you instead of these things, go for what works best for you.
In this method, all you really need to do is set aside 10-30 minutes before you go to bed. First, be sure that you have done a cleansing and that you won't be distracted by your daily thoughts.
Sit on your bed and decide what you want to dream about. It helps if you try the same scenario consistently each night. It doesn't have to be something serious--in fact, the more crazy your scenario is, the more likely you'll notice it isn't real when you dream it.
So concentrate on the dream scenario you want, and visualize it panning out. Imagine yourself becoming lucid, and imagine the things you want to do. KNOW that you will lucid dream. In fact, you may want to repeat "I am going to have a lucid dream tonight." to yourself out loud until you believe it.
This method may seem silly at first, but it is the very method I used to learn, and I now have at least a few lucid dreams every single night.
Reality checks are very simple and easy to do. There are infinite possible reality checks, so you are only limited by your imagination.
The easiest reality check is to simply make a habit of asking yourself "Am I dreaming?" several times a day. Eventually, your habit will bleed into your dreams, and you will ask yourself the question while you sleep.
Once you question your reality, you will notice some of the things in your dream that can't be possible in the real world. Normally, you accept the weird things in your dreams, but once you question them, you will realize that they are out of the ordinary.
I have heard of people doing reality checks such as throwing up little objects and trying to make them float, or looking at their hands or feet (for some reason, hands and feet are easily distorted in dreams, but I don't think that this is universal so I wouldn't rely on it).
Reality checks are good, but it depends on the kinds of dreams you have. For example, when I was a kid my mom taught me the "look at your hands" RC. It never worked because, while I see my hands all the time in my waking life, I never saw them in my dreams. When you do a RC, don't just blankly ask "Am I dreaming?"-- a lot of people complain it doesn't work, and I believe that is because they don't actually consider this question, they just ask it without even thinking about it. When you do a RC, really look around you and think about whether or not your environment makes logical sense.
The RC that worked best for me was the "Where was I last? What was I doing?" You may be surprised that you'll answer "I went to bed!" and of course conclude that you must be asleep. So these things help with DILDs.
Reality Check Addendum
The problem with RCs is that a lot of times, people just mindlessly go “am I dreaming?” and without even considering it, they think “no,” and then totally forget about it. This does absolutely nothing to help you get lucid.
When you do a reality check, don't ask if you're dreaming. Assume that you ARE dreaming. Now ask, “why do I think this is real?”
Example of a GOOD answer: “I think this is real because I remember waking up, getting dressed and driving here. I can remember in detail what I had for breakfast. When I toss a pen into the air and try to make it float, I can't do it.” This works because you are testing you surroundings and memories against LOGIC. Not only that, but you're physically testing reality. If you want, you can try the classics such as looking at your hands or holding your nose to test reality.
Example of a BAD answer: “This feels real.” While you'll never confuse your waking life with a dream, ALL of your non-lucids will always “feel real.”
For this method to work, you absolutely MUST have a good dream journal going, and have a good understanding of the repeated symbols, scenarios, and themes in your dreams.
Many of us will have certain people, places, objects, or situations that are repeatedly in our dreams. These things are NOT in our waking life, but they appear at least once a week in our dreams. These are what I am talking about when I mention dream cues.
Once you have a good understanding of things which exist solely in your dream world, you can focus on seeing them at night before you go to sleep via the visualization method above. This isn't necessary, but it will increase the chances of having your dream cues more often and becoming lucid.
Eventually, while you are dreaming, you will recognize one of your dream cues and become aware of the dream.